Water-Purifying Charcoal Sticks
Binchōtan. Have you heard of it? I'm OBSESSED. I first read about it when I was doing some research on natural remedies for reducing musty odors, but it turns out the stuff has a number of other great qualities. Binchōtan is a type of traditional Japanese hardwood charcoal made from oak.
The entire process takes approximately two weeks. The charcoal is burned at extremely high temperatures (around 2,400 °F) and then it is rapidly cooled. This critical end process, called “nerashi” in Japanese, completely carbonizes the structure of the wood, leaving countless microscopic cavities in which unwanted water-borne chemicals, such as chlorine, are easily trapped. Fun fact: One gram of Binchōtan charcoal has as much surface area as a tennis court!
Having grown up with a water softener my whole life, it was a real shock when Tyler and I moved to our first house and started drinking and cooking with hard water. We didn't want to invest in a water softener right away, so we started buying a whole bunch of Brita water filters. Well that was fine and all, but those things only lasted a few weeks and then we had to throw them out. I don't know about you, but I'm really not interested in throwing even more garbage into our landfills.
So when I read about Binchōtan as a way to purify water, I thought it might be the perfect solution. I purchased water bottles and a glass carafe from Black + Blum, and we have been using them daily since May. The water bottles and carafe come with one stick, but I purchased another pack of three for just $15.
Tyler and I agree we have noticed a difference in the taste of our water - even better than when we were using our Brita systems. The other great part? The sticks are reusable! Approximately every month, or as the charcoal loses effectiveness, I boil the charcoal in tap water for 10 minutes. This refreshes the charcoal, removing all captured chemicals and making it ready for reuse.
The charcoal is supposed to be replaced as a water purifier after ~6 months of use, but you can use it in a number of other places around the house. Here's a great listing of some options:
1. Purifying water: Add charcoal to water. The charcoal will release alkali ions to increase the water’s pH, release natural minerals and absorb unwanted chemicals from the water.
2. Cooking: Add charcoal to a pot or steamer. The far infrared rays released by the charcoal during cooking will retain the taste of the food and eliminate any unpleasant smells. The charcoal will absorb any chlorine or chemicals from the water used for cooking and release good minerals into your food.
3. In the bath: Add approximately one pound of charcoal to a hot bath. The charcoals will emit far infrared rays, which improve blood circulation and keep your body warm and relaxed long after your bath.
4. Around the house: Binchōtan works great as a deodorizer. Place charcoal pieces inside your fridge or cabinets and the charcoals will absorb airborne odor that causes molecules and bacteria. They will also absorb moisture, helping to combat dampness and mold in a closet or drawer.
5. In the garden: Recycle your used charcoal by adding broken pieces to the soil. The tiny holes in the charcoal helps to aerate the soil, increasing microbial activity and creating healthy natural soil for your plants.
6. For healthier living: Place charcoal next to radiation emitting appliances like your computer, microwave or television. The charcoal is known to block harmful low frequency electromagnetic waves.